Shit Don’t Stop: On ‘111th East,’ G Perico Shines as One of LA’s Most Consistent Street Orators

G Perico's latest EP stands out due its replayability and acts as yet another strong project in a continued hot streak, Will Hagle writes.
By    July 26, 2022

Image via Perico’s Innerprize LLC

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Will Hagle once convinced his friends that he was going to Harvard Law School to fight for tenants’ rights and a few of them believed him.

In the seven years since a cameo from Nipsey Hussle helped catapult the “G Shit” video far beyond 111th (between San Pedro and Main), G Perico has told captivating and specific stories about those and other nearby patches of pavement. Whether reminiscing about being young and reckless on the block, flipping off Taco Bell on the way to Taco Mell, or flying on the 5 in a Benz, the Innerprize Clicc entrepreneur has been one of Los Angeles’ most consistent street orators and first-person documentarians.

111th East—his latest EP and eighth project since 2021—has a loose thematic thread that honors the titular street which raised him, and which remains as inextricably a part of him as his tattoos. In six songs with no features, totaling around 15 minutes, Perico does the same as always: puts catchy hooks alongside conflicted reflections on the crime and violence he and his peers enacted out of necessity throughout a turbulent upbringing – plus a few one-liners and assorted gems of wisdom.

From “G Shit” to 111th East, Perico has come a long way without going anywhere. He had a quiet couple of years leading into the pandemic, and industry interest in rising artists ebbs and flows with dirty unpredictability. That quiet period, contrasted with the newfound streak of prolificacy beginning in 2021, emphasizes the significance of his recent success. Through consistent, patient progress, G Perico is amidst a full-fledged revitalization.

When he emerged during L.A. ‘s mid-2010s gangsta rap renaissance, G Perico was the closest adherent to the genre’s historical archetype. More so than for contemporaries like Vince Staples or YG, recognizing Perico’s lineage to DJ Quik and Eazy-E was quick and easy. He represented the best G-funk tropes coiffed together to recognizable yet unique perfection – like his glistening hair. He had it all, and more: the jheri curl or braids beneath a hat, funk-influenced beats, multisyllabic rhyme schemes, a nasal tone with clear enunciation but varied tempo and flow, and plenty of wild tales about robbery, dealing, and pimping. In his 2016 piece introducing Perico, this site’s editor referenced the rapper’s “rare timelessness.” Perico was part of a burgeoning group then, but his presence stood out and made intrinsic sense. In his musical embodiment of a few South Central streets, he represented the essence of an entire region.

In the half-decade since Shit Don’t Stop and All Blue broadened Perico’s reach, profound tragedy has altered the trajectory of L.A.’s music scene. Nipsey was murdered. 03 Greedo went to jail, where he’s now forced to record a feature for Perico via the phone, which he did to set the bittersweet tone on the first track of Play 2 Win. Ketchy died. Drakeo was murdered. Shoreline broke up. Covid wrecked the live music industry. Etc. Etc. Et goddamn cetera.

But the resilience of L.A.’s music scene is like G Perico’s recent hit streak: shit don’t stop. Too $hort is another oft-cited analogue due to Perico’s tone and cadence. Perico also mirrors the Bay legend’s relentlessness – as he says on “Eventually,” “I’ve been in love with pills since the days that I was thizzin”. 111th East stands out because of its replayability, but its impressiveness is heightened because it’s another strong piece in an impressive hot streak.

Perico explains his proven strategy best on the opening track “Eventually”: if he sticks to the script he’s going to make history, and he’s never been a mystery. On most songs, he lays out flashes of his narrative in straightforward terms. Stints in juvenile hall and the penitentiary were—as he says with LeBron-esque confidence on “Confessions”—his “college.” If he wasn’t drug-dealing he was pimping, and now he’s all the way legitimate: a millionaire from 111th East, with a stockpile of stories to draw from. On “111th East Interlude” he delves into the specifics of a situation that led to a police helicopter search and a rumble outside the next day. Regret is almost detectable, but he also sonically shrugs at the unavoidable realities of the city’s politics. “You know, 111th East, man,” he says before the beat plays out.

The lead single from 111th East is “Young & Reckless,” but Perico is in his early 30’s now. At this age, from a new perspective, he’s both close to and distant from the upbringing that defined him. The youth may be the heartbeat of the streets, but Perico’s memories of that free yet fleeting era remain vivid. He’s a demon-fighting gentleman, and he won’t reveal every detail, but reflecting on his actions from an evolved present helps contextualize how his past impacted him. He tends to stay in the same places lyrically and physically, but he’s as much a tour guide of his own conscience as he is a hyper-local author.

The bluntness of 111th East’s lyrics offer a stark depiction of life in South Central, but Perico isn’t lacking in humor or levity. “That’s My Dawg” is the best ode to friendship since Young Thug’s “My Boys,” and “That’s My Perro!” is the optimal line to yell at your canine companion in Perico-voice when they’re barking over the salsa-influenced beat blaring out of your sound system. He ends “Legitimate” with free association rhymes and a cackle. He will tell you what his life has been like, and acknowledge its occasional horrific nature, but he’ll do it under the guise of a fun, uptempo banger. Like the best of his G-funk forefathers, he surrounds descriptive and contemplative verses about his hometown with irresistible hooks that can resonate anywhere.

G Perico is not the city’s sole spokesperson, but he has been unloading batch after batch of its best storytelling. 111th East between San Pedro and Main is a little block with a lot of history, enhanced through the filter of Perico’s firsthand experience and aged evolution. His career is like the marathon Nipsey talked about, and Perico has seen a similar trajectory of delayed success in response to consistent progress. 111th East is the latest project he’s dropped on a path that will hopefully continue, through the specific streets he mentions and much farther beyond.

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